HomeAid Orange County

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

by Helen Cameron, Jamboree Housing

November 09, 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words. This is what a homeless person living with mental illness looks like.

These are everyday people living alongside us, but they are invisible to us. Mental illness is defined as “a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others, even people with the same diagnosis.”

Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school, and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play an active role in your recovery process.

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, interlinking causes. Genetics, environment, and lifestyle combine to influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits, as well as basic brain structure may play a role too according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

At a national level, of the 943,017 people accessing shelters and transitional housing in 2013, 44% of those in shelters had a disabling condition and 15% were veterans. According to the Point in Time count in January 2017, there are 893 chronically homeless individuals in Orange County and over 400 veterans are still homeless as of 2017.

Jamboree Housing is Orange County’s premier developer of Permanent Supportive Housing units. Statewide, Jamboree Housing has developed housing for over 155 residents with mental illness, all of whom are coming from homelessness or at risk of homelessness. All have a serious and persistent mental illness. We offer permanent supportive housing with 24/7 mental health services provided on-site by our full-service partners in communities of Anaheim, Sacramento, Irvine, and Midway City, as well as in houses of Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, and Irvine. According to a study by UC Irvine, the cost of homelessness to law enforcement, health care, and interim services in Orange County is approximately $45,000 per homeless individual. In contrast, helping people through permanent supportive housing reduces the overall cost to $10,000.

How can we end homelessness?

Solutions to consider:

  1. Collaborate with agencies to focus on permanent supportive housing - a national best practice.
  2. Acquire additional housing resources with a Housing First Philosophy:

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Report “Opening Doors”


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HomeAid has been ending homelessness with Jamboree Housing since 1991 with the renovation of two homes, adding 10 beds for men and women recovering from mental health challenges.